The Greatest Map of America

Unfortunately most Americans are geographically illiterate.  We are famous for it.  Half of Americans aged 18-24 can’t locate New York City on a map.  Renegade cartographer Dave Imus is trying to change that by making more interesting and instructive maps.

Dave Imus Perusing a Well-worn Copy of His USA Map

Dave Imus Perusing a Well-worn Copy of His USA Map

In 2010, Imus’s map of the United States won the Cartography and Geographic Information Society’s Best in Show award.  His map not only conveys the geographic essentials, but also provides some of the flavor of each region.  

Imus, commenting on a National Geographic map of the western United States, notes that:  “their labels are going every which way.  They don’t even put the time zones on their map.”  The only things you can determine about a city is its latitude and longitude and general size.  Imus’s map of the USA is full of more detail and it is much better organized.

A Close-up of a Small Segment of Imus's USA Map

A Close-up of a Small Segment of Imus’s USA Map

According to Christina Cooke, writing for High Country News (16 Sep 2013):

Imus believes so strongly in promoting geographic awareness that he plunged $117,000 into debt over the two-year period he spent creating and printing the map [of the USA].  The public didn’t take notice, however, until January 2012 when a Slate article proclaimed his work “the greatest map of America you’ll ever see.”

Nearly two years later, Imus estimates he’s sold perhaps 35,000 maps.  “I’m really convinced that the potential market has barely been scratched,” he says.

Commenting on the HCN article, Imus writes:

Like a botanical illustration, cartography is an identification art. Botanical illustration allows users to identify wonderful things like flowers, while cartography allows users to identify the dazzling patterns of the world in which we live.  There is more to the art of expressing geographic patterns than most cartographic organizations have the budget to attend to, because like all good identification art, good cartography takes a lot of time to create.  I am fortunate to have had the deep time needed to make maps to the best of my abilities.

Imus’s maps can be purchased at  A folded version of his award-winning USA map costs $12.95 (with free shipping).  You can also purchase the map on poster paper, laminated, and framed.  Happy map reading and travels.

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